Manila, Philippines — Workers of Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa in Laguna demanded the full and immediate implementation of the Department of Labor and Employment’s final and executory order to regularize 675 contractual workers amidst the Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines Inc. (CCFPI) management’s refusal.
“It is enraging that Coca-Cola management has refused to implement the DOLE order to regularize 675 of its contractual workers,” said Jerome Adonis, secretary-general of national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
“Instead of regularizing their loyal, long-term, and hardworking employees, CCFPI has instead chosen to double down on their illegal retrenchment of their contractual workers,” Adonis said.
“The anti-worker Duterte regime’s refusal to end contractualization in favor of big local and foreign business profits has led to this dispute,” Adonis added. Moreover, “DOLE secretary Silvestre Bello continues to remain silent on the issue, essentially siding with CCFPI despite their blatant rejection of his department’s own ruling in favor of the Coca-Cola workers.”
President Duterte has been roundly criticized by workers from KMU and other labor centers and organizations since he went back on his campaign promise to end contractualization once and for all.
An alliance of various labor groups worked together last February to produce a draft executive order (EO) that would have rendered labor-only contracting, job contracting, and other forms of contractualization illegal. It would also have replaced DO 174, which has been widely censured for further legitimizing contractualization instead of ending it.
However, President Duterte decided not to sign the draft EO, a decision which KMU called “a betrayal of workers and a connivance with big businesses.”
“The Coca-Cola workers are just among the millions of Filipino workers who are burdened and exploited through widespread contractualization,” Adonis said. “Their protest is not just against the unfair labor practices of CCFPI management, but against Duterte, who has chosen corporate greed over the rights and welfare of workers.”
CCFPI is the largest franchise bottler of Coca-Cola products in the Philippines. Their employees have been picketing for almost a year since over 600 employees were laid off due to “restructuring,” including four union presidents and 19 other union leaders.
KMU has criticized the mass layoffs as a violation of local and international guidelines for labor relations.
“In this case, ‘restructuring’ simply codes for ‘union-busting,” said Adonis.
KMU called on the public and other workers to support the Coca-Cola protesters. “The demand to regularize the 675 contractual Coke workers is a major front in the Filipino workers’ struggle for regular jobs, decent work, and other fundamental labor rights, including the right to unionize and to strike,” Adonis said. CPM
Jerome Adonis, KMU Secretary-General, 0939-507-3770
Neil Ambion, KMU Public Information Dept., 0928 2359733